There are exactly two reasons to visit the Namibian Craft Centre. You either work there and sell craft and dried Mopani worms or you are a tourist and got hijacked by your bus driver. Who otherwise would indulge in an offering of Namibian music as proof that the process of decolonization for some has only just started? And art? There is a reason it is called the Craft Centre. But I found one more reason to spend time in this venue: I finished at NaTiS across the road quicker than my parking meter had expired and I had overheard the evening before that Gerdis Stadtherr was exhibiting in the Omba Gallery. Apart from being one of the gentlest dinosaurs in the Namibian art scene, Gerdis is well-known for being totally unrecognized. I decided to give it a try and – was deceived.
Now, first impression: Amazing! The Omba Gallery is freshly painted: clean walls, Mesdames et Messieurs! Good move, good move indeed. So I start eye-sucking up the paintings in warp speed meditation one by one. Nice colours, well composed, good use of canvas size, mature stroke, you name it. Until I come to the board where Gerdis explains what all of this is about. I will not tell you, go and see for yourself. But I take my hat off to Madame Gerdis. There is no mystic babbling or academic gymnastics; there is only the simple truth. So this time, her exhibition number 14, is not abstracts around Chaos or Fractals, this time it is shavings or ‘Spin-Offs’, as she calls it. In my view of the world shaving is a center point as it defines the difference between mankind and animals. At least this is what the wise tribe of the Nuba in Sudan believes in. Animals speak, sing, think and have a soul – but they do not shave. Coming back to Gerdis, her shavings are of a totally different nature. But losing the plot is what this exhibition does to you and I appreciate it very much when artwork does this to me. Oh yes, and neither are animals artistic.
Who has not experienced the beauty in the simple, the sand between your toes, the fairy tales in cloud formations, the spirals of galaxies in the vortex of the emptying bathtub, the beauty in the shavings of a potato? Ooops? And here I go around the Omba Gallery again, look at artwork number one and inhale the deeper associations. My phone vibrates, I don’t care. I walk around the room and try to understand the order of the assembly. There is no order, there is only paths, memories, funny stories we never share, and beauty. My parking meter must have run out, I don’t care. Some tourists come in, I leave.
If you want to do something that makes you feel really great, something which connects you with your inside, then go to NaTiS and pay your outstanding vehicle registration fees and check out Gerdis’ universe behind the peeling of a potato and its triobe. You will find unexpected beauty.
Gerdis Stadtherr “Spin-Offs” Omba Gallery from 16 Sept. to 10 Oct. 2014
Entrance free plus costs of vehicle registration and parking.
by Kurt Vonnebad